Confessions of a Former Workaholic: 6 Easy Ways to Find Time for FitnessBy Tara Igoe Hello. My name is Tara and I’m a recovering overworked corporate executive. I remember lots of late night meetings discussing things I really didn’t care about, delivering presentations filled with pie charts I still don’t understand, and gulping down cheap processed food at my desk for fear my bosses would think I was actually taking a break. Not exactly peak life moments. Back then, I didn’t know about little things like balance, happiness, and doing the work you love—I learned those lessons later. But despite my crazy schedule and job dissatisfaction, I always managed to find time for fitness. I think a part of me intuitively knew that taking care of my body was key to both my physical and emotional health. I always felt better after I exercised—life made more sense, my jobs seemed more bearable, and all those good feelings stacked up and got me hooked on fitness for life. I’m happy to report I left my crazy corporate career behind, and now I work for myself. And though I enjoy what I do, running a business comes with its own set of challenges, including how to fit fitness into my new schedule. Through both my own trial and error and observing what works for other people, I’ve figured out how to fit everything into my schedule. I hope the real-life tips that follow will help you fit fitness into your life, and that you find balance and bliss in the process.
- Make your workouts fit into your current lifestyle and schedule.My sister Susan is busy as a mom and a part-time consultant. Her husband Jim is a hotel industry executive who works long hours. They both like to keep fit, but when they have free time to spare, they like to spend it together as a family with their two teenage sons, Will and Henry. So for them, keeping fit has become a family affair.Sue, Jim, and the boys have done everything from creating fitness challenges using Tony Horton’s Power 90® and Shaun T’s INSANITY® DVDs to getting out into nature for family hikes. When Will joined the track and crew teams at school, Susan, Jim, and Henry would go on runs with him in their neighborhood to help him train and as a way to connect with one another. The bottom line is that Susan and Jim’s approach to fitness fits their lifestyle and schedule and helps them stay true to what they value—”together” time with their family. As a result, staying fit feels fun and easy, and that’s the key to helping them stay consistent.
- Master multitasking.I’m a consultant now, and I work from home most of the time. Sometimes I feel guilty about going to work out in the middle of the day when I have a lot to do. So I figure out ways to multitask. While driving to my workouts, I return calls to clients, pay bills, and conduct other business—all while using a hands-free earpiece, of course. I’ve even taken clients on walks or hikes with me—they love the literal change of pace from sitting in an office, and we’re able to think more creatively out in nature.My friend Amy is another master of multitasking. Amy is a teacher and a single mom with a young son, Lucian. To connect with her son and take care of the things on her “to do” list, she does things like take Lucian on a bike ride to the grocery store, bringing along a backpack to hold her groceries. During one bike ride, she’s able to accomplish many things—enjoy nature, spend time with her son, and get her shopping done. All with the added benefit of keeping fit.
- Listen to what your body needs.When I was in my 20s and working in very high-pressure office environments, my fitness routine consisted of step aerobics, kickboxing, and running. I realize now I was drawn to high-impact activities as a way to release the pent-up frustration caused by my work—plus I wanted to move vigorously after sitting behind a desk all day. My body knew what it needed, and I listened to its guidance.When I was in my late 30s, my father died, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, and I quit a high-pressure job. It was all a bit too much to handle, and I just wanted to retreat from the world, slow down, and find some peace. So once again, I listened to my body and what it needed—and started going on long walks in nature and doing restorative yoga. Slowly, I came back to a place of balance, found the peace I’d been seeking, and got into great shape along the way. I loved how I felt when I did these activities, so I kept doing them. The point is, your moods will change minute by minute, day to day, and throughout the seasons of your life, depending on what you’re going through, your job, and your schedule. In terms of movement, pay attention to what feels good to you—your body won’t steer you wrong.
- Make fitness a “must,” not a “should.”I live in Los Angeles now, but I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts (population 4,000), where there were no gyms and driving to Dunkin’ Donuts® was considered a workout. Yet somehow my mother, Dona, found time to jog or ride her exercise bike in our drafty basement in the midst of raising five kids, working, and running a household.My mother made staying fit a must. When we make something a must, we cut off any possibility for excuses like having too many kids, being tired, or living in a small town with no gym. We choose our health instead of a Dunkin’ Donut—even if they are delicious. My mother’s commitment to fitness has continued to have a positive effect on her health. She’s 76 now, in great condition, and still likes to mow her own lawn—with a hand mower, not the ride-on kind.
- Think about how you feel after you work out BEFORE you work out.My mother gets it: She thinks about how she looks and feels after she exercises, and that keeps her going back for more. The key is to do this before your workout and it’ll help you follow through. If I get too caught up in work or other parts of my life, I picture myself post-exercise laughing and feeling good—peaceful, clear-minded, and full of energy. That visual gets me into my workout gear.
- Switch from “I have to do this” to “I getto do this.”Sometimes in spite of all these previous tips, I just don’t feel like exercising; it feels like a chore, something I have to do, and I let work be my excuse to not do it. Then I think of people like my 87-year-old friend, Gert. Gert lives in a nursing home and can’t walk well anymore, so she spends most of her days in bed. She dreams of being able to simply stand up on her own and stretch her body.